Amaryllis is a quarterly newsletter about the comings and goings of the Penn South community and the Chelsea area, written by Jane Hogg for the last twenty years. If you really want to know what goes on around here, Amaryllis is the place to go.
Residents at Penn South come from eclectic backgrounds and have an amazing array of talents—one of the being poetry. That's why Penn South Social Services created the Poetry Corner, to help inspire everyone who lives in our community.
Submit your poetry to Gary Schoichet to be included in the Poetry Corner.
Submit your poetry to Gary Schoichet to be included in the Poetry Corner.
In Search of Meaning Amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic Lisa Ruimy Holzkenner
(Chelsea, NY—July, 2020)
Ah, strange, strange, strange are these days.
Yes, in perpetual anxiety, I am sequestered behind my locked door
for this unforeseen foe of a merciless disease subjecting humanity
to immeasurable tragedies of loss, pain and grief.
Like shadows, fears accompanying me everywhere into my waking and sleeping hours, depriving me from restorative sleep, dreaming, tapping into the unconscious, putting things into perspective, and making peace between
the inner self and the outer world.
And despite the world’s brightest scientific minds and their herculean efforts to find a remedial vaccine, the deadly disease remains wrapped in mystery.
And yes, bereft I fear how this trauma will affect our children across their lifespans.
With no ostensible clear end in sight I wonder what next, when and where.
I must admit that I am moderately in a melancholic state.
For I can’t fathom a world without human face-to-face interaction,
looking into each other’s eyes and reaching out with an empathic touch.
Recollection meets memories of sweet hours kissing and hugging my children, and grandkids, and dear ones; sharing a homemade meal, savoring the moment with my family and friends. Yes, I am already nostalgic for the world I knew before.
Yes, another day of isolation is here. I look through my window,
I see a surreal world, a scene that looks at once like itself and alien.
The sounds and the sights of a city with a perpetual rhythmic life
suddenly drowned into a strange lingering silence.
Springtime has passed away without our cherishing the new blossom and
celebrating the freedom of our humanity.
As I lift my head to the blue sky, a gift in solace - birds that I love gliding in the blue sky singing in a different language, "shelter –in- place, shelter –in- place.”
I turn on the TV for the latest news--
a strange and painful scene, watching the procession of motorcars transporting those thousands of blessed souls who lost their lives to the lethal disease, mourned without a moment of silence, eulogy or prayer. My heart fills with grief
I bow my head and with mournful tears recite a prayer~
May those innocent souls find peace in the journey across the heavens.
I close my eyes and contemplate the capricious fate that determines our destiny in the universe and my own mortality. No, I am not afraid of death, but the thought that I may cease to be without seeing my loved ones before my last breath saddens me. When my visit on this earth ends, I will extend my wings and fly off toward eternity.
Until then, with a stubborn optimism I will rejoice in living a life for its own sake as long as I can keep seeking meaningful ways to stay connected with those I love and we maintain faith in one another even though we are not in the same physical place.
Yes, I woke up this morning with a purpose—a to-do list:
Baking and sharing with my friends and neighbors their favored treat
Staying in contact with family and friends on the phone with words of love and hope
Reconnecting with people I have not spoken with for a while,
Reading books I would otherwise never read again,
Writing down what comes to mind, and letting the unconscious work through its prose and rhymes until ready to breathe a life of its own.
I was reflecting whether, amidst this existential crisis, nature is giving us signs, wanting us to slow down for soul searching that will spur a meaningful adaptation.
As we revisit our priorities and values to make a distinction between the vital and the futile, the trivial and the important, a chance to reconnect with some essential truths we have forgotten: that in the cycle of life across time and space our collective destiny binds us all together—humankind with all creatures on earth.
Yes, nature wanting us to be awakened to how much we have in common as sisters and brothers, all yearning to lives a life worth living, lives filled with the joy of love and friendship, as we find the balance between our compassion and kindness
for others and for ourselves.
And yes, within us is the wealth of amassed wisdom to embrace a vision of living in harmony with the natural world, a balance that will determine our hope for survival as a human species on our planet earth, for only in this way will we build a new world.
Ah! Humanity, we are an adaptable species with invincible strength.
Despite our ongoing suffering and grief, with a willing spirit we will get through this together and when the cycle of healing begins, we will find a way
to go on building lives of meaning and hope in the future and in humanity.
For the human spirit of beauty and love was, is, and always will be there.
And yes, our common force to survive and thrive once again calling for our reawakening, and once more the spring of our lives will rise as it rose before.
Yes, with each breath’s infinite blessing, collectively we say yes to our precious life, a gift that we must earn and cherish, and to the opportunity to pray more than we ever did before for the healing of our children, the healing of each other and the earth,
as we all partake in spreading peace and celebrating the glory of human diversity
under one sky that covers us all.
I dream of the bliss to come, to be free and with ecstasy again to embrace and kiss our children and grandchildren and those we love. May in the end we find that we have become the people we were called to be, kind to one another and
may it stay that way.
I Will Cling While I May to the Joy of Years Left to Live
Lisa Ruimy Holzkenner
(Chelsea, NY—January, 2020)
I was once a young woman, it seems not long ago. I have been in my mid-life journey for a while. Each season of my life had its different hue,
some shining moons and some dark nights.
The forces of destiny have taken me by the hand
through territories unknown, justifying life’s purpose.
Each stage required a new understanding of myself and
the world with all its mystery, adversity, and beauty.
One season following the other, I grew slowly as a ripening fruit on a tree.
All the seasons made me who I am, independent woman,
mindful of the pain, grateful and humbled by the beauty of being alive.
One season following the other, none of the seasons can stay,
but when the twilight years of my life arrived, it came like a winter storm breaking through my locked metal door.
It is true the mirror reflects the path of ages on my face.
When I saw my first gray hair, I smiled,
my grandfather of noble soul came to mind.
Once I was nimble like a fawn, climbing mountains to watch birds.
Today both my knees ache with arthritis and will not climb the stairs.
My memory at times takes a sabbatical; it troubles me, for I do not want it to go. But memories distill what matters most, my friends and the love of my family- my precious children and grandchildren who are and always will be my soul, pride and joy. I am grateful for the blessing of life’s offerings.
Often I think there is more to me than the decline of the physical.
I lived all these years and I have something to show for it, a badge of triumphant survival. As I approached the ethos of old age I learned being old is a hard-won and rewarding life achievement, that there are myriad advantages to getting old: The world of material possession, vanity, pride and greed recedes.
Compassion, spiritual and inner peace are more cherished
Illuminated by old age, my soul aches, for the very existence of all life on earth is on the brink of extinction. The image of such ramification blurs my eyes with tears. Yet, I hope that humanity, in due course, will prevail to remedy the consequences by finding a new path toward ecological consciousness,
for the health of the earth is the hope of the world. I hope that there is still time to change our fate. These are only some rewards of old age.
As long as I keep being useful, crafting meaning from the remnants of time,
I will cling as I may to the joy of years left to live.